CRYSTAL LAKE – The Crystal Lake Bombers proved harder to wipe out than some action-movie villain, which made the manner of their demise at the McHenry County Youth Sports Association Summer International Championships seem fitting.
The Bombers, who faced elimination from the losers’ side of the 15U Silver Bracket for five consecutive games, were tantalizingly close to advancing to the championship game. The Bombers held a lead three times from the sixth inning on. And every time the Mac N Seitz Royals regained the lead or tied the score.
Finally, Mac N Seitz’s Carter Young ripped an opposite-field, bases-loaded single inside the left-field line to score a pair of runs and send the Royals to the championship game with a 10-9, eight-inning victory at Lippold Park.
The Bombers started 0-6 in the tournament – 0-5 in pool play, then an opening-round loss in bracket competition – but found their stride. They were playing their 12th game of the tournament, their seventh in the past four days.
“Those kids were running on empty,” Bombers coach Mike Krueger said. “Our pitching was deep and that helps a lot. Everybody was battling to the end. They just don’t give up.”
The Bombers finished in third place in the Silver Bracket. The only other local team in the 15U tournament, the Illinois Hitmen, tied for fifth in the Gold Bracket after losing to Hitters (Wis.) Baseball, 4-3, Saturday.
Later, the Iowa Diamond Hawks defeated Mac N Seitz, 12-2, for the Silver Bracket championship.
“It was a tremendous effort by the whole team,” said Bombers shortstop Nik Subaric, who will be a sophomore at Jacobs. “We battled back hard from losing six straight. This is outstanding.”
The drama from the bottom of the sixth until the end was intense. There were numerous times when a hit or an out could have ended the game before Young’s single actually did. Mac N Seitz trailed, 5-2, in the sixth and rallied for five runs. Four of those were scored with two outs.
The Bombers came back to grab an 8-7 lead on RBI singles from Trevor Ranallo and Subaric. Just before Ranallo, Tyler Carlson had drawn a walk to load the bases after being down to his last strike.
Mac N Seitz tied the score in the bottom of the seventh and Marc Miguel doubled in Steve Krueger for another Bombers’ lead.
“You get to the point where you just want to do anything for your team to win,” said Bombers catcher Jarryd Cabusao, a sophomore at Marian Central. “You’re just in that moment. You’re e not thinking about yourself or anything. You’re not thinking about girls. You’re just thinking about what you can do. You have to love it.”
Subaric said there was tension in earlier elimination games, but not like Saturday’s.
“Oh, my gosh,” Subaric said. “It was so intense. It was stressful yesterday, but I knew we were going to win that game. I really thought we were going to win this one, too. I’m glad to see my teammates all in it.”
Eventually, Mac N Seitz loaded the bases with one out and Young ended the drama.
“We have really good families and really good kids, that makes my job easier,” Mike Krueger said. “They left it all out there.”